Members of the Millville and Roxana volunteer fire departments responded April 25 to a noontime fire at a salvage facility on Substation Road near Central Avenue, just outside Ocean View.
The fire, sparked during the attempted salvage of a pickup truck, first ignited nearby brush. Those flames, in turn, ignited the truck itself, which then set ablaze a nearby pile of tires. At its height, around 12:45 p.m., the fire encompassed the truck, tires and nearby brush but did not spread to a nearby storage barn, surrounding trees or neighboring residences.
The burning tires briefly generated a plume of black smoke that trailed high into the sky, but that was quickly dispersed in the day’s mild breeze and under the departments’ extensive response.
Initial responding units included two pumper trucks, which were quickly joined by various support vehicles, including two ambulances for firefighter support, the Roxana fire company’s “Baby Bear” mini-water truck and its large tanker truck.
The extra water supply was needed due to the lack of hydrants on the semi-rural property. They provided water through the pumper trucks initially on the scene.
Millville VFC Assistant Chief Doug Scott said the water was not pumped directly onto the fires to extinguish them but was instead used to generate foam — a necessity because firefighters quickly found the blaze involved some magnesium content, causing large and potentially dangerous white sparks when it interacted with plain water.
With foam employed, the firefighters quickly had the blaze under control, wrapping up operations around 1:30 p.m. Representatives of the state environmental control office joined the emergency personnel on the scene to investigate and advise on the magnesium issue.
Scott emphasized that, despite the presence of the magnesium, the salvage operation was a legitimate one — simply having had an accident befall its normal work on that spring day. Environmental officials concurred.
The MVFC assistant chief also noted that the fire was more easily contained due to recent rains, including heavy downpours over the weekend. “It was a good thing for the rain,” he said, “because it didn’t go anywhere.”
Perhaps ironically, Scott said the rains also meant the state’s long-running burning ban was set to be lifted at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, just hours after the blaze ignited at the Substation Road salvage operation. He said he expected area property owners would be rushing to burn accumulated refuse and that area fire companies would be busier than usual as a result.
The Substation Road brush fire could be a signal to those property owners to take extra care, despite the recent rains. Brush may still be dry after an extensive dry spell that saw both the burning ban and a major brush fire in the Seaford area.